When it comes to fitness trackers, there seems to be a device for tracking and quantifying almost any metric or sport. and for the most part, almost all of them have some sort of step/pace counter.
But some devices will be much more detailed than others. For instance, a dedicated running tracker will be able to track not only your pace and distance, it will also have many more detailed metrics, such as ground contact time, vertical oscillation, V02 max, cadence, and heart rate which are what serous runners need to be able to increase their running speed and accuracy.
We've done some in depth research and put together a list of running trackers that will give you the best bang for your buck, especially if you are a avid runner.
In its own right the Garman 920 XT is one feature packed device, especially if you are doing triathlon training. Although it can track many different sports activities, where the 920XT excels is run tracking. In addition to ground contact time, vertical oscillation, and cadence, the device can also give you a VO2 max estimate. With this watch, Garmin has also thrown in their lactate threshold calculator. Being able to calculate lactate threshold is crucial for runners who want to avoid lactic acid buildup in their muscles.
Being a smartwatch, the 920XT has ability to do GLONAS/GPS tracking. It doesn’t skimp on battery life as well, coming in at around 10 hours on a single charge. Additionally, the device has a full color screen which is quite large, especially for a sport watch.
Pro tip: pair the 920XT with the Garmin HRM run to be able to track the maximum amount of metrics.
TickR X Run
The Tickr Run is a versatile fitness tracker with the ability to measure all of the important metrics that are crucial to runners. Ground contact time, vertical oscillation, and cadence are all kept track of here. Where the ticker really shines is its dual band capabilities,. The device can support both Bluetooth and ANT+ plus devices. This makes it ideal if you want to pair it with a smart watch and your smartphone at the same time.
The Tickr Run is unique in that it is also chest strap style heart monitor. Since you wear it around the chest, it is one of the few devices that can also track your running metrics without it needing to be worn on your wrist or your ankle.
The Tickr also was really good third-party apps support and is very affordable to, coming in and around $50.
Garmin forerunner 630
Garmin’s main line of smart watches has recently seen a major upgrade with the forerunner 630. In addition to posting smart watch notifications and being able to track all the usual running metrics, there is also a built-in recovery manager. The device will give you a stress score based on your last workouts heart rate. Like Garmin’s other wearables, the 630 can also measure lactate threshold.
The forerunner 630 does lack some of the bells and whistles of commons 920 XT, such swim tracking, Glonas, and ultra track mode.
The HRM run is another chest strap style heart rate monitor can also measure your vital running statistics. The main reason to own one of these devices is so you can pair it with a smart watch for heart rate tracking. when you pair the HRM run with a device such as the 920XT, you get access to the full gamut of running dynamics data.
As far as the Garmin series of smart watches our concern, it’s a worthwhile purchase.
Running Kinetics Foot Pod
For a solid running tracker, you can’t go wrong with the Running Kinetics Footpod. Perhaps the thing that stands out most about the pod is the sheer number of metrics and data that it can collect. The pod can gather esoteric data like impact and breaking G’s, which will track the of force utilized when your foot strikes the ground or when you are running downhill. And as if that weren’t enough, the pod also can measure your pronation velocity and excursion.
This foot pod attaches to the back of your shoe by a soft silicone style glue which is supposed to help improve its accuracy. Needless to say, this is truly a device for the professional runners out there.
While it isn’t the most robust running tracker, we felt that the surge deserves an honorable mention. The surge is Fitbits smart watch/activity tracker hybrid, and it can track your distance, pace, and calories. The surge is also able monitor your heart rate, thanks to its built in optical heart rate monitor. Additionally, its built-in GPS makes it ideal for trail runners or distance runners who are looking to map out and their route more accurately
The Surge is noteworthy for being able to automatically detect whatever activity you are performing and begin recording it without any user input.
As a bonus, the Surge been also has a pretty decent automatic sleep tracking mode.
Tickr X Workout Tracker
The Tickr X is similar to the run version, however it is more geared towards indoor running (such as a on a treadmill).
The Tickr X can also store music, thanks to its on board memory. The device acts like an mp3 player and allows you to double tap it when you want to change the song.
Other differences include its ability to track cycling via its cadence measurement, which can also be used for running.
Tom Tom Multisport
Although it is not the most advanced running tracker, the Multisport more than makes up for this with its versatility. The device is able to track distance, location, speed, heart rate, cadence, and stride rate.
You can also run indoors with the Multisport and it will estimate your distance and pace. The watch also gives you the option to set different goals for running activities, such as interval training.
As an aside, the heart rate sensor is made by Mio, which means it is highly reliable and accurate.
The Moov is a running tracker that is meant to be worn around your ankle. The device acts like a "workout coach" that speaks to you through headphones and provides near constant feedback about your workouts. For instance, when you set the Moov to "endurance mode" the workout coach it will remind you constantly if you are under your goal or give you encouragement when you are doing well.
The Moov app has a also has a running efficiency section, which helps you adjust your running cadence, pace and running form so you wont get injured. Also, the sprinting section to really tests your running skills.
The Moov now also supports cycling, which is ideal since the device is worn on the ankle. The device is fully water resistant and has a 6 month coin cell battery.
Suunto Ambit 3 Run
Suuntos line of smart watches are able to track pretty much any sport, and the run is no exception. You’ll be able to track pace, cadence, and stride length. Additionally, the Suunto has an embedded altimeter for those who like to do a like of trail running.
As a bonus, the Ambit 3 run also supports the addition of a foot pod sensor. This is somewhat of a rarity where GPS watches are concerned and it’s good to see that Suunto is leading the pack here. Be sure to opt for the heart rate sensor as well. It pairs very well with the Ambit and will give you additional running measurements.
As far as the app goes, it does have 1 stand out feature: that of a built-in ghost runner which allows you to see your past recorded runs and compete against them. The Suunto will also allow you to share your routes with other people for a little friendly competition.